Raise your hand if you hate moving!
The Greater Boston Area, especially lovely places such as Allston, Cambridge, and Somerville, can be quite a painful place August 31st when most housing rental leases end. For one night, until the new lease begins on September 1st, many people become practically homeless — or worse, many students must move out of graduate dorms in the middle of August. I’ve heard stories of people secretly sleeping in U-hauls, renting terribly expensive hotel rooms, paying a month’s rent for movers, and moving around 3-4 times with stuff from one friend’s place to another. I myself have been stuck between the renting cycles and had to come up with complex solutions. Moving is already stressful on its own with sorting, organizing, spending money on new furniture, and endless carrying of boxes…
If you are/were in this position — I’m very sorry, it sucks. The most stress-less option is to find an apartment with a mid-August move-in day and just move slowly throughout the two weeks. However, this option is not always available. After talking with some of my friends and based on my own experience, here are some advice and tips on how to survive August 31st.
Early bird catches the UHaul.
Start preparing and packing for the move at least a month before. It’s always more stressful and messy if you have to do everything in one day, but it becomes way easier when, on August 31st, you just have to move boxes into a car. Every time I had to move, I remember thinking that I wish I started packing early. If you don’t want to buy boxes, ask for some free boxes from your local grocery/liquor store.
Organize all moving infrastructure at least two months beforehand. I strongly suggest renting a U-haul or a Zipcar in advance because they do run out; people suggest doing this at least 1.5 months in advance. If you have a lot of boxes, reach out to your new landlord because they sometimes allow you to use the basement or load everything in one room. If you have a couple of weeks between the moves, you might want to rent a storage unit.
Lastly, decide if you need a hotel room for you and your roommates for the night of August 31st and book it way in advance.
A friend in move is a friend indeed.
I do believe you can do everything yourself, but having extra hands can save you and your back a lot of pain. Do not feel awkward and ask your lucky friends who are not moving to help you out. If you don’t have a driver’s license, I especially recommend being nice to someone who can drive. In a food-driven society such as MIT, buying people pizza is a great way to thank them for their help.
Measure twice, buy furniture once.
Do not buy new furniture until you move in. This advice saved me a lot of money. Once moved in, measure the hallways and staircases to ensure you can fit the furniture into your apartment. In fact, because of Boston’s crazy moving cycle, is it easy to build the home of your dreams. The MIT Furniture Exchange has a lot of very nice furniture available and is much cheaper than IKEA. In Allston, Cambridge, and Somerville, people often leave furniture they don’t need on the street. The so-called Allston Christmas is a great time to pick up a new coffee table or dresser on the street. Just make sure you don’t accidentally steal something! :) You can also ask the previous tenants, if they do not want to deal with their big furniture, to leave it in your room.
There is no place like a one-year-September-lease apartment.
Although this advice might be helpful, it might not make moving less stressful. However, I’m not sure that the Boston leasing cycle can be broken. Perhaps there could be something done at MIT to help out students on the 31st of August? For example, we could have student-run “couch surfing” or a massive classroom sleepover. Moving is frustrating, but after it is done, I wish you to have a cozy place you can call home and not to have to move the next year!